Chapter 4: Fortunate Son

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Detailed Description

USGS video series highlighting the individuals who make up the U.S. Geological Survey. We are USGS, these are our stories. This episode focuses on USGS Southeast Region Director Jess Weaver.


Date Taken:

Length: 00:02:48

Location Taken: Los Angeles, CA, US


I was always participating in Science Fairs and things like that. 

So I always did well in science and math-related courses.

I’ve typically not been afraid to take a bit of a risk here and there. 

So, we'll see how that goes.

I remember being at the beach and most kids were building sandcastles 

and I’m timing when the waves are coming in to see if there is a pattern.

Well, I was lucky in that I grew up in a family…my father was an electrical engineer, 

and my brother was a civil engineer.

I didn’t do very well in high school. 

In fact, I did pretty lousy.

I played around a lot. 

But my father 

encouraged me to go to college 

and he told me to get 

to take certain fundamental courses 

to sort of see how I would like things.

One of them was mathematics,

one of them was chemistry, one of them was English. 

He said if you could get to school and begin

to knock out those prerequisites, 

then you’d be much more comfortable in the future of your educational career. And sure enough he was right.

I have been extremely fortunate to have had such a supportive 

father and mother. And I feel 

not everyone gets that. 

And, so I’ve been blessed.

People don’t realize this but I’m quite shy.

I think I’ve outgrown it.

I was absolutely terrified to stand in front of three people, 

much less a room full of people and say anything about anything.

I hated public speaking.

I actually avoided going into forestry

because they had a class called public speaking. Engineering didn’t have any such thing.

So I was terrified of it. 


what you learn is after a while you do things, you do things, you’re scared, but everybody is scared. And you work your way through it.

I’ve said I had 

a good mentor in parents…I’ve had good people help me at work from all types of positions. 

And you do want to give a little of that back.

Seeing other people succeed given an opportunity

is what I really developed the strongest passion for. More so than conducting the effort myself.